Voice of the Faithful confused by recent actions of the Vatican

October 26, 2009 – Boston – We applaud the recent news from the Vatican reaching out to our anguished brothers and sisters in the Anglican community and expressing its willingness to receive their married priests and seminarians into communion with the Latin rite church. Yet we are also perplexed by the Vatican’s apparent unwillingness to reach out to the tens of thousands anguished members in its own faith community, an anguish caused by the increasing shortage of priests.

Today, when we are in greater need than ever of wise and caring pastoral leaders who can preach the gospel convincingly and preside over prayerful and joyous Eucharistic liturgies, we note with alarm the growing shortage of active priests, a shortage that will only grow worse in coming years with the average age of active diocesan priests being sixty-five. A vocation crisis that shows no prospect of improving under current conditions ensures an exponential increase in parish closures and the continuing dissolution of parish faith communities across the country.

“Solutions that have been proffered by our bishops are sadly inadequate at best, and sometimes counter-productive,” says John Ryan, the chair of Voice of the Faithful’s National Priest Support Working Group, a group that has been examining the issue of mandatory celibacy. “The use of tactics such as recruiting non-native priests and seminarians from poor countries, substituting communion services for Mass, closing or merging parishes, and assigning priests to pastor multiple parishes, while refusing to even discuss the matter of mandatory celibacy as the major problem, defies explanation.”

“Catholics appreciate the charism of celibacy as a unique gift to be freely embraced,” Ryan continues. “But for those others who have not received the gift of celibacy, it is experienced as burdensome to their vocation of priestly ministry. Many young men who do not feel called to a life of celibacy would respond to the call to the priesthood were it not for the arbitrary requirement of celibacy as a condition of being ordained.”

“What will it take, we ask,” says Ryan, “for church leadership to reach out to its own anguished brothers and sisters by starting the discussion about removing celibacy as a requirement of ordination to the priesthood?”
For more information about VOTF’s National Priest Support Working Group or to post a comment, visit or email Jessica, PR Director at

Voice of the Faithful (VOTF) is a lay organization formed in 2002 in response to the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. It started in the basement of a church in Wellesley, Massachusetts, and has since expanded worldwide with more than 150 Parish Voice affiliates and 30,000 members. The entire organization is committed to helping the Catholic Church.